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MASc in Global Sustainable Development (2024 Entry)

Explore our Global Sustainable Development taught Master's degree.

Our innovative MASc in Global Sustainable Development is a unique opportunity to join a community of transdisciplinary experts and practitioners with a passion for research and teaching. On this flexible course you will combine academic learning with practical action and applied thinking to tackle problems of global sustainable development.

Course overview

In Global Sustainable Development (GSD) we take a critical approach to the dominant discourse of sustainable development. We are committed to understanding as well as challenging existing practice, and want you to join us, as we seek innovative, transformative responses to complex global challenges. Based in the School for Cross-faculty StudiesLink opens in a new window, our academic home is a natural place for future transdisciplinary leaders to flourish.

On this course you will work with Warwick’s GSD DepartmentLink opens in a new window, the Institute for Global Sustainable Development (IGSD)Link opens in a new window, and partner departments across the University. Our staff are at the forefront of their fields and share your passion for global sustainable development.

Core modules will support your development as an intellectual leader dedicated to bringing about positive change. They will help to deepen your understanding of the core global challenges we face, and develop your critical and reflective approach, as well as your technical and methodological skills. Your learning will be rooted in critical intellectual enquiry and philosophical understanding, which will support your personal development as a leader of thought and action. In addition, by having a broad range of optional modules and flexible capstone project options, you can tailor the course to your own areas of interest.

In Term Three and the summer, you will have an exciting opportunity to ‘learn by doing’ as you undertake a transdisciplinary capstone project. We will offer you a choice of research, practice, and work-based experiences. Your chosen project will enable you to develop a skillset and expertise most suited to your future career goals.

By the end of this course, you will be equipped to play an authentic, ethically-grounded and reflective role in global citizenship. You will also have a defined understanding of what is necessary to act as a leader of positive change. The route you choose upon graduation will be defined by your own interests and aspirations. Your learning from the course will equip you with what you need for a career in applied research, in policy, business, or in third sector activity.

Who is this programme for?

This programme is ideal for you if:

  • You have prior experience of studying GSD
  • You are new to this field of study with a first degree and a strong interest in GSD
  • You have work and life experience relating to GSD

Skills from this degree

You will learn to:

  • Think systemically, recognising connections and interactions between factors, and understand that actions often have many consequences
  • Identify and analyse the risk that system complexity can lead to unexpected and novel outcomes, and contribute to the proactive management of this
  • Describe complex issues in clear terms and communicate about them effectively and succinctly, both verbally and in writing
  • Work naturally and consciously, as part of a community of practice, by learning from others in a culture of respect, mutual understanding and empathy, and managing disagreement and conflict through socially non-violent means, even in the context of formal power hierarchies
  • Support and foster intellectual leadership by challenging assumptions, critically analysing information and negotiating alternatives to current practices
  • Create new and personal knowledge in GSD both through research and self-managed learning

General entry requirements

Minimum requirements

2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent). Find out more about our requirements.Link opens in a new window

We encourage applications from students with diverse backgrounds, from the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. We particularly welcome students with experience of interdisciplinary study.

In certain circumstances, we will consider applicants with a lower second-class honours degree, or a normal degree (and their equivalents). This is particularly the case for applicants with relevant professional experience which can be explicitly and directly related to our curriculum.

To find out more about how to apply please visit the GSD website.Link opens in a new window

English language requirements

You can find out more about our English language requirementsLink opens in a new window. This course requires the following:

  • Band B
  • IELTS overall score of 7.0, minimum component scores of two at 6.0/6.5 and the rest at 7.0 or above.

International qualifications

We welcome applications from students with other internationally recognised qualifications.

For more information, please visit the international entry requirements pageLink opens in a new window.

Additional requirements

All applicants need to provide a Statement of Interest. This should be 1-2 pages long in content, with an extra page for cited references.

Your statement should include:

  • Your motivation for applying for this specific degree at Warwick
  • How your educational background has prepared you for rigorous postgraduate study in this subject area
  • How obtaining this degree will fit into your future plans
  • What you hope to get from studying this course and your expectations
  • You may also wish to include details about your personal/work/voluntary experiences if they relate to the degree programme
  • Explicit discussion of knowledge, concepts, theories, frameworks, and general literature, with which you are familiar and believe can be applied to the subject area, referenced using appropriate tools of scholarship
Cited references

You should provide a list of any cited references, appropriately formatted. These should be included on an extra page, following your statement.

Core modules

Term One

Leading Transformation in the Anthropocene

For the first time in history, humans are the primary agents of change on a planetary scale. This module will equip you to be an intellectual leader within this new and defining context.

Throughout this module you will explore often unexamined questions of intellectual leadership in change. You will consider how they might rigorously and reflectively conceive of socially positive change and transition from first principles of philosophical reflection. You will consider perspectives from historical interpretation, reflections on identity and power, as well as practical methods of change.

Read more about our Leading Transformation in the Anthropocene module.Link opens in a new window

Creating Knowledge for Change: Foundations of Transdisciplinary Research

Transdisciplinarity is a way of creating new knowledge about the world we live in and how we bring about change. This approach sees beyond siloed disciplines and integrates academic and non-academic perspectives.

In this module you will consolidate previous methods training through active consideration of transdisciplinary methodologies. We will encourage you to think about the underlying differences in the way different groups of people see the world, and therefore build knowledge and act in different ways. This module particularly prepares you for your capstone summer project.

Read more about our Creating Knowledge for Change: Foundations of Transdisciplinary Research module.Link opens in a new window

Global Challenges and Transdisciplinary Responses

This module will deepen your understanding of the core global challenges facing our world today. You will develop your transdisciplinary problem-based, response-focused process skills and subject knowledge. You will work through units on selected topics based on research expertise in the GSD department, and develop a range of communication and advocacy skills.

Read more about our Global Challenges and Transdisciplinary Responses module.Link opens in a new window

Term Two

You will be required to take at least two of the following optional core modules:

Qualitative Approaches to Sustainable Development

Through the use of case studies and real-world examples, you will explore and evaluate the scope, value and limitations of different and, in some cases, combined qualitative approaches for knowledge generation.

You will gain practical skills in qualitative research and further develop your ability to critically engage with qualitative research methods, while understanding the challenges that both researchers and participants can face with data collection and analysis.

Read more about our Qualitative Approaches to Sustainable Development module.Link opens in a new window

Quantitative Approaches to Sustainable Development

With the use of case studies, real-world examples and data, you will learn to conduct advanced quantitative research, and to evaluate the scope, value and limitations of different quantitative approaches for knowledge generation.

Hands-on practice in computer-lab seminars will allow you to develop skills in statistical analysis relevant to trans- and cross-disciplinary research. You will critically engage with applied quantitative research, and gain a comprehensive understanding of the main issues arising from the use of quantitative methods.

Both of these methods modules will allow you to make informed and evidence-based decisions when designing research interventions that respond in nuanced, robust and imaginative ways to complex and systemic problems.

Read more about our Quantitative Approaches to Sustainable Development module.Link opens in a new window

Policy, Governance and Sustainable Development

This module is practically-focused, allowing you to understand how sustainable development policy is created. You will be encouraged to reflect on the complexities of policy creation, and to consider how you might engage in the design of policy for the future.

Read more about our Policy, Governance and Sustainable Development module.Link opens in a new window

You will also select optional modules offered by GSD and partner departments.

Term Three and summer

You will select one of our transdisciplinary capstone projects:

Workplace Project

Using an agreed work placement which you will source with an outside organisation, you will think through issues of personal and institutional change-making and transition. Our department's Employability and Placement Manager will be available to support you throughout this project and offer advice in your search and application to organisations as well as during your placement.

Read more about our Workplace Project.Link opens in a new window

Practice-based Project

Engage across campus or beyond with Warwick’s pioneering sustainability agenda or other organisations’ sustainability aspirations and plans. Working closely with sustainability practitioners, you will act as a sustainability consultant within a defined organisational area, appraising, assessing and formulating proposals, which would lead sustainable transformations.

Read more about our Practice-based Project.Link opens in a new window

Research Project

You will have the opportunity to create a dissertation, policy briefing, article or creative output. You will be guided by specialist academic supervision.

Read more about our Research Project.Link opens in a new window

Optional modules

The number of optional modules you take will vary depending on how many of the above optional core modules you select. Your optional modules will be offered by the GSD Department and partner departments and you will have the opportunity to specialise in thematic learning. Optional modules could include:

  • Care-ful Sustainability: Place, Culture and Value
  • Critical Perspectives on Business and Global Sustainable Development
  • Popular Movements and Sustainable Change
  • Sustainable Urbanisation: from Risk to Resilience
  • Health and well-being across the life course
  • Climate Change and Development
  • Socially Engaged Performance: Interventions and Provocations
  • Resource Fictions: Studies in World Literature
  • World Literature in the Anthropocene
  • Urban Resilience, Disaster and Data
  • Habitability in the Universe
  • Thinking Water
  • Education for Sustainable Development
  • Design Thinking for Social Impact
  • Public Engagement

Please note, optional modules are subject to availability and offerings may change each year to keep your learning experience current and up-to-date. You will also need to discuss your optional module choices with your personal tutor and receive approval from the Director of Graduate Studies in GSD. Other optional modules may be available across other departments.

Read more about our optional modules on the GSD website.Link opens in a new window


We offer a transdisciplinary approach to learning about problems of global sustainable development. The global challenges we face today do not fit neatly within disciplinary boundaries, instead, requiring integration of different disciplinary perspectives. This is reflected in our range of expert tutors, drawn from a variety of disciplines across the humanities, social sciences and scientific fields.

Transdisciplinarity also requires engagement with non-academic partners, breaking down boundaries between academic thinking and practical application. The capstone projects on this course bring this to the forefront. For instance, you may choose to work with an employer, unifying knowledge from academic and non-academic viewpoints.

We pride ourselves on a pedagogy of problem-based, response-focused learning. You will be taught key course content via interactive lectures and task-guided reading. However, most of your learning will be through the active, authentic and applied student-self-construction of knowledge. This pedagogy allows you to develop applied process skills and academic subject content at the same time.

The capstone modules offer structured and supported opportunities to ‘learn by doing’. This is learning not just by means of authentic tasks that mirror the ‘real-world’, but by offering learning as being a fundamental part of daily, collectively-lived reality.

The Institute for Global Sustainable Development

On this course you will benefit from expertise in Warwick’s Institute for Global Sustainable Development (IGSD). IGSD provides a focal point for Warwick’s sustainable development research, contributing towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, but still challenging of them. Researchers in IGSD will contribute to our taught modules via guest lectures. They will also, where appropriate, be available to supervise the capstone projects in Term Three and the summer.

Class sizes

Class sizes will vary with around 15-25 students in core modules and fewer in optional core GSD modules. Class sizes for optional modules in GSD will be small, typically with around 10 students. In other departments, optional module class sizes will vary according to the size and nature of their postgraduate programmes.

Typical contact hours

In the first term you will have 8-10 hours of contact time each week which will comprise of lectures, seminars and practical sessions.

In Term Two your contact hours will vary depending on which options are selected. Each of the 10 CAT GSD optional core modules offer two contact hours per week in the form of seminars and/or practical sessions.

For the capstone modules you will benefit from one-to-one supervisions with academic specialists to support you with your project.


The core modules on this course will be assessed in a variety of ways including essays, presentations, and research project plans. The assessments are designed to help you develop the skills for research, analysis, and communicating your work with others. For example, you will have opportunities to write professionally formatted policy briefings that’d be used to engage with policy-makers or the corporate world.

All assessments in modules offered by the School for Cross-faculty Studies link to practical applications. In these modules, you will complete formative and summative assessments. Formative assessments will include discussion circles mirroring professional discussions in the working world. In your summative assessments, you will have the opportunity to show subject expertise, while continuing to develop process skills.

Your timetable

Your personalised timetable will be complete when you are registered for all modules, compulsory and optional, and you have been allocated to your lectures, seminars and other small group classes. Your compulsory modules will be registered for you and you will be able to choose your optional modules when you join us.

Your career

Studying an MASc in Global Sustainable Development will open careers in the public, private and third sectors in a range of areas and functions including the following:

  • Governance – shaping policy and processes at local, national and international level
  • Research – academic via Master's by Research or PhD research or for an organisation in the public, private or third sector including think-tanks
  • Teaching at all levels: primary, secondary, Higher Education and tertiary
  • Project management in any industry – this could be a community or commercial project
  • Communications and media relations
  • Consultancy – for example in corporate social responsibility
  • Advocacy – for example on international relations, humanitarian work for organisations such as the United Nations
  • Data and intelligence analyst – for example security, geo- political risk

Professional development support

We have a dedicated Employability and Placement Manager in our department who can offer you careers guidance and provide information about suitable capstone workplace project placements. Additionally, they will be able to provide you with ongoing support throughout the placement process, including advice on applications, interviews, as well as links to employers.

Employability skills

Our course has been designed to ensure you develop the skills, attributes and knowledge that are sought by employers.

These include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Research
  • Project management
  • Data analysis
  • Commercial acumen
  • Creative problem solving
  • Communication (verbal and written)
  • Independent and collaborative working

Global Sustainable Development

Transdisciplinarity is at the heart of our teaching, learning, and research in the Global Sustainable Development (GSD) Department. Global challenges spill over disciplinary boundaries, and our unique academic home reflects this. Based in the School for Cross-faculty Studies, our staff and students have genuine opportunities to transcend disciplinary boundaries, creating new knowledge about the world.

On our innovative courses, you'll contest longstanding inequalities and actively promote change. From your first day, we'll encourage you to make positive interventions with a beneficial impact. Beyond your studies, you’ll have a myriad of opportunities to apply your learnings to the world around you.

By joining our department you’ll be inspired, and challenged, by our passionate tutors. You’ll work together with our team to find responses to pressing problems of global sustainable development.

Get to know GSD better by exploring our departmental website.Link opens in a new window

Our Postgraduate courses

Tuition fees

Tuition fees are payable for each year of your course at the start of the academic year, or at the start of your course, if later. Academic fees cover the cost of tuition, examinations and registration and some student amenities.

Find your taught course fees  

Fee Status Guidance

We carry out an initial fee status assessment based on the information you provide in your application. Students will be classified as Home or Overseas fee status. Your fee status determines tuition fees, and what financial support and scholarships may be available. If you receive an offer, your fee status will be clearly stated alongside the tuition fee information.

Do you need your fee classification to be reviewed?

If you believe that your fee status has been classified incorrectly, you can complete a fee status assessment questionnaire. Please follow the instructions in your offer information and provide the documents needed to reassess your status.

Find out more about how universities assess fee status

Additional course costs

As well as tuition fees and living expenses, some courses may require you to cover the cost of field trips or costs associated with travel abroad.

For departmental specific costs, please see the Modules tab on the course web page for the list of core and optional core modules with hyperlinks to our Module Catalogue (please visit the Department’s website if the Module Catalogue hyperlinks are not provided).

Associated costs can be found on the Study tab for each module listed in the Module Catalogue (please note most of the module content applies to 2022/23 year of study). Information about module department specific costs should be considered in conjunction with the more general costs below:

  • Core text books
  • Printer credits
  • Dissertation binding
  • Robe hire for your degree ceremony

Scholarships and bursaries

Scholarships and financial support

Find out about the different funding routes available, including; postgraduate loans, scholarships, fee awards and academic department bursaries.

Living costs

Find out more about the cost of living as a postgraduate student at the University of Warwick.

MASc Global Sustainable Development Bursaries

The School for Cross-faculty Studies is pleased to offer bursaries for Home and EU/Overseas students commencing the MASc in Global Sustainable Development.

Find out how to apply to us, ask your questions, and find out more.

How to apply

The application process for courses that start in September and October 2024 will open on 2 October 2023.

Applications will close on 2 August 2024 for students who require a visa to study in the UK, to allow time to receive a CAS and complete the visa application process.

How to apply for a postgraduate taught course  

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See Warwick’s postgraduate admissions policy.

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A Warwick talk and tour lasts around two hours and consists of an overview presentation from one of our Recruitment Officers covering the key features, facilities and activities that make Warwick a leading institution. The talk is followed by a campus tour which is the perfect way to view campus, with a current student guiding you around the key areas on campus.